new movie poem

Off to the races! Death race 2000 http://redroom.com/member/christine-hamm/blog/movie-madness

Twilight 

Twilight Zone Theme Song

 

16 months and I’m still dreaming your birthday.  A pitcher of milk upended over your donkey’s head.  A collection of swollen green flowers, mouthing your elegy.  Moths fluttering like the gentle hands of spastics, ankles and wrists contracted, the better to hold you with.

It seems obvious that the swallows die first, falling with an endless series of sighs.

Black and white, you retreat into the three-sided rooms of methadone memory, every mother a looming camera you pretend not to see, every pet terrier a robot on batteries about to run down.

We caught your mother stealing fish from the pond in a yellow bucket.  We tried to drown her in the bathtub, the sink, her silver sandals resting on the corner bookcase.

You wrote the same poem over and over.  You invited God into the room with you and then burned the house down.

The fillings in your teeth overflowed with black tar.  You kept spitting, spitting to clean your tongue. This is not that hospital bed.

This wall has a whole human slit in it, a portal to a closet-sized sky, clouds like miniature tea cups, silver painted gloves jerking on nearly invisible strings.

A tree slumps on the hillside above the pond.  A three-legged doe comes towards us through the doorway, breath like something clotted and wet.

I’ll set this paper over here, with the other victims.  I’ll set this paper on fire, as soon as it touches your hair.

Let’s build a teepee of paper hats and plastic forks.  Let’s flush our pills and see who can hold her breath longest.

 

 

more time travel

The Antique Consumer

 

It’s always winter somewhere.  Our glaciers retreat and advance, pushing the earth into grimy ridges, sullen furrows.

She tells me I can’t write about this, like this – it’s just not done – she’s so earnest, leaning forward over the desk.

I’m in this store at the bottom of a hill, counting my arm scars, watching, through the store’s back window, the old pines on the hill, naked

and scruffy at the bottom near their roots, but light blue and deep green and violet
at their tops, slowly waving, all of them. I can’t feel

the breeze in the shop; it’s hot and closed and dusty.  There are some sentences you should just stay away from.

The knobby, polished pine floor boards seem shrunken, as if they’ve moved away from each other.  Here and there in the gaps, clumps of dust and thread stuck on splinters. What to do with this whole mess.

As I read about them, I imagine what the animals smelled like.  I hear them huffing and snorting, see their breath rise in the morning.   I try to build a corral, or I try to plan to build a corral, using scissors, paper and a little bit of charcoal.

Dark books mount the corner shelves, warped by water, delicate, cookie-crumb edged.

Old glass bottles on the windowsill, lumpy with light-colored dirt and white
residue inside their necks.  Square or round, violet or light blue,

none of them bigger than my hand.  Snow.   Carrots.  A shaggy
brown pony named Snoopy.

A ticking in the walls,
as if a determined
insect or small machine.

When I fall to the floor, I put my eye to the gap between boards.

And past floating curls of dust, in the dim, I see you looking, or what looks like you, a wooden key just out of reach.

In which the psychoanalytical is manifested in the physical. In the future, I will know what to do with these hands.

 

Collage Poem

Conversations with Mother

 

You have to enter the forest to meet its characters. The buffalo is about being tamed and untamed. As well as preserving, classifying and displaying. “Can you see the air?”

A peach-infused pink rug, light turquoise brushed up against the walls. Windows shudder, rooms heave as if turned by a broken machine: trying to simulate that which cannot be simulated.

Without guilt or limits or satiety or exhaustion.

One huge eye, no wings, and long, curving legs.  All its feathers sketched in, but with such tiny marks, they look like fur.  This on a set of plates in your cupboard.

She grinds the cigar embers out with the toe of her white sandal.  Three bracelets on each wrist, and even their rattle sounds mournful, mortal.

Her lap: a grid of imperfect white dots against a black background.

Sword = snake. “Thing” to sleep against with a cold sharp grasp.

“Stupid dog”, she calls, “It’s not even supper yet.”

“What kind of animal is this?”  Ashtrays, paper plates. “Do you even know its name?” Just sits and stares blindly, forgetting everything.

One glass jar containing one hair bow, one gem razor, one pair tweezers, and  one set rubber “hillbilly” teeth.

You worry about hurting the bird as you eat, about scraping her skin or beak.

The mouth of the sink speaks slowly, in a voice you almost recognize.

“Give me your hand,” she insists, “I’ll break it down for you.”

 

 

(Notes: Some lines taken from Spalding Gray’s It’s a Slippery Slope (1997), PRINT, 66.4 August 2012, Freaks, by Leslie Fiedler (1978), and The Wonderworld of Science, by Warren Knox (1940).

The Year of My Birth

Image

August, 1964

I. Palm Beach, a fake emerald bracelet scratching your

wrist.

You crawl to the bed, the industrial carpet rubbing its

cigarette stink all over you. You remember the man’s

hands, the scars and words scrawled across them.

A wilted yellow carnation on the nightstand. Your

ruffled dress with pink and black diamonds sprawled

across a chair. A ceiling full of tiny stabbed-in holes.

The damp circle your body makes on the sheets dissipates.

Eventually, you stop shivering.

II. He left you an unreadable note on the pillow – it starts

with a word like “Darling” or “Baby”.

The hotel pool, never heated. From your sticky plastic

chair of the morning, you watch a barefoot man fish out

the drowned mice with a sieve on a stick.

The sky the color of still water over stones; the sun grabs

the back of your neck. You wish you had a hat.

You come to in a cool red tub, all the towels hung like rags

above you, crooked and damp.

Not Eden

The Dream of Eternal Return

 

The downstairs tenants have started a garden in the backyard.

They dragged away the blown bags, the children’s t-shirts, the half-sunk pitchforks, the sagging metal drums, the men’s chewed boots.

When I lean out and call to them, they don’t understand – point at their mouths.

I’ve always thought of the soul as green glass – pale, small, breakable, too distant to touch.

The weeds have been stripped, the earth dark, moistened; faint green marks unfold in curls.

Now, a dogwood tree arches and moans in the middle of everything.

Sparrows cluster like savages, chatting and shrieking, pulling at anything tender.

I see it dying at the edges, leaf corners brown.

At dusk, fireflies rub themselves against the night.

Sometimes a woman sits on her knees in the dirt, touching something with her gloves, trembling.

ghost or animal

A Bear

 

 

He smells almost like a real bear,  like burning tires and garbage.

 

The bear is made of paper – he is hollow.

 

Where the light hits right, you can see inside his head and his mouth.

 

He appears to have masking or packing tape holding the inside of his head together.

 

He has no actual fur, but some dark lines indicating fur.

 

The bear is held down by strings tied around rocks. 

 

The rocks were once in a river, then in a child’s pocket.  They made the child clack when she walked, heavy.

 

My mother kept a photo of this bear in an old book. 

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